Researchers from the University of Oregon discovered that bilingual preschoolers show better self-control than kids who can only speak one language. That’s another advantage of multicultural families. Previously we reported that communication in a foreign language makes people less emotional. The new study somewhat confirms these findings; this time for young kids.
Bilingual advantages include better self-control in children
The study indicates that the ability to speak another language assists in development of inhibitory control at a younger age. It means the child is able to stop a habitual or involuntary response and use a better way to react to a situation.
To get to the results, researchers divided preschoolers into 3 groups.
- English speakers.
- Bilinguals who spoke English and Spanish.
- Kids who started to learn the second language (English) during the study and initially were speaking Spanish at home.
To check the ability of self-control, young participants had to respond in a special way to an action by a researcher. If the adult was making two knocks, the child was supposed to respond with one knock. If the grownup made two knocks, the kid needed to do just one. Thus, the response was asymmetrical, and required self-control to provide the correct answer as required.
The experiments showed that both groups of bilingual kids (#2 and #3) performed the task better than the youngsters who spoke only one language at home.
Researchers were able to involve students who came from families of the same socioeconomic status but had different experience with languages. Kids from low socioeconomic strata were chosen for the research.
Atika Khurana, a professor in the Department of Counselling Psychology and Human Services and scientist at the UO’s Prevention Science Institute, pointed out that inhibitory control and ability to perform tasks were viewed as vital abilities for achieving academic goals. In addition, this ability also linked to positive health results, which secure the person’s well-being in the future. Khurana stated that children who have strong inhibitory control paid more attention to tasks, observed instructions and helped each other.
Jimena Santillan, a senior research manager at Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, stated that they were able to get proof of how bilingualism can act as a shield that aids children in enhancing their cognitive skills. Bilingual-minded children are said to be able to deduce information quickly with ease.
By monitoring the third group, where kids were becoming bilingual during the research, the scientists were able to confirm that the higher extent of self-control was connected with developing the ability to speak in another language, and not some other factor.
So, if you are worried that your Ukrainian wife’s child may have a hard time because of moving to an English-speaking country, have confidence: Learning the second language is good for him or her.